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Travel Diary: Amsterdam

January 6, 2017 - 9:35
Hans Brinker Hostel

Every so often a clatter of utensils rumbles through, someone coughs, a breeze of weed passes by, but all unmarked by the consistent buzz of enticing languages settled in the bar turned breakfast room. The morning sun glints through the wall of windows and it hits: I am in Amsterdam.

15 hours, probably more, of transportation delivered me and my fellow world travelers to the "World's Worst Hotel"! There's literally a plaque in the lobby and t-shirts. In a way, I couldn't be more thrilled to rough it up in Europe. However, sleep infrequently visits me, and jet lag is an overstayed guest. This will be overcome, of course.

For all my conscious life, I've dreamt of one day visiting Europe, and I must admit it's everything I wanted. And more. Behold the history, beauty, public transport, and bikers! Coming from Houston, a highway city, to bike safely in a metropolis, oh, boy, it makes my heart race!

January 7, 2017 - 19:29
Hans Brinker Hostel

These past two days have been more than memorable, they've been magical. Streets independent, calm, stoic. People with stories, seeking a world outside their own. I've promenaded bridge over bridge, conversed with many stoned paths, and gazed at colorful townhomes lined throughout the city like canned sardines. Amsterdam is imperfectly beautiful.

Last night, my friends and I barhopped in the Red Light District, I got caught in a circle of young drugged up Italians (we call them the "Whip It Gang"), and I'm off finding shelter/dancing with some Americans from Minnesota for the rest of the night. 'Twas quite the experience, but I could do without the red light.

Today, we visited Van Gogh's museum, and it brought to my attention how truly incredible Vincent was in his time. I just stared at one of his self-portraits for what seemed like eternity, and thought about his perseverance to his passion of art, the years of dedication trailed with failure, the doubts he must have overcome. And it was like he was staring right back at me and knew, I, too, had a long, harrowing journey ahead.

There's darkness in this city, but it's open about it. Some cities try to hid their faults, but Amsterdam admits it. Right now, I am Amsterdam. Parts of me lovely and awe-inducing, other parts cringe-worthy and appalling. However, it's my triumphs and faults that define me. And despite all of it, I am loved. Whether I'm called "innocent" or "wild" by the different ends of the social spectrum, I know like Van Gogh, you just have to trust in your call and give everything to it. Not exactly sure about cutting off my ear, but I'll think about it.

January 8, 2017 - 14:59
Train to Zurich

On the train to Zurich! We jumped on the wrong train earlier, but managed to return to the main Amsterdam Centraal station.  Literally the grace of God, we discovered that our original train never arrived! Truly a fortuitous moment. After settling down, I reviewed the picture of the train departures screen I took in the midst of chaos, ended up translated the word next to our number, and learned that it translated to "Not Arriving." Oops.

The boys updated our reservations while Sadie and I chilled in the first class lounge away from the peasants, and alas, we've made it to our train. About 30 minutes ago we crossed into Germany!

This is real. I am in Europe, another continent, another world. And it's so mesmerizing. A plethora of people! So many more varying souls than I hoped to realize. Amsterdam was just the start.

On to the next adventure!